Does Practicing Islam Mean Losing Friends? – 2

(Part 2)

Part 1

Do you feel very connected with your friends when you do various activities with them, or share similar interest?

Most likely the answer is “yes”.

Do you feel awkward when you are around practicing Muslims?

Most likely “yes” also!

Let us stop right here and ask ourselves a simple question! Am I a Muslim or not?

You may say: “I am a Muslim because I inherited it from birth and not out of my choice.” In this case, please rest assured that Islam is not imposed on anyone except by choice. If you choose to be a Muslim, that is your right and if you choose not to, that is also your option. Yet, please be fully aware that being born into a Muslim family does not give a person a passage to Paradise. Faith and action are essential components of being a Muslim.

Working in a Chocolate Factory?

If you are however a person who is considering Islam as a new religion, or returning to it, regardless of your age, you may also have certain reservations.

One of the main considerations could be losing the friends that you already have if you were to practice Islam. Other considerations may include the acts of practice itself, like prayer, fasting, abstaining from activities that are frowned upon. What about the music you listen to and the books you read, the movies you watch, the games you play? Would you have to give up everything all at once and dive into religious practice? Not many may be motivated to give all these up at once when real incentive is not there.

A well-meaning religious Muslim may remind you of the benefits and bliss and permanence of the Hereafter versus the short and temporary life of this world. You seem to be unmoved by any such reminders! Why? Could it be that you have not given faith a chance to grow?

Let us assume that you have some interest in practicing Islam, but just can’t seem to bring yourself to get interested. Can we look at possible causes?

Now, let us imagine someone is working in a chocolate factory and ending up eating it often and ends up having health problems. He wants to stop eating chocolate. He is not strong enough to resist the fragrance of chocolate and keeps grabbing one and popping it into his mouth. He still wants to quit, but it does not work. Would it make sense if he removed himself from that environment?

But perhaps he really does not want to. Well there is no win for him in this if he has even vague interest in addressing his health problem. The fragrance of chocolate just sweeps him off his feet when he enters the chocolate factory with all the people there who may share similar interest.

Practicing Islam is no different. In order for a person to move from one direction to another, first, the motivation has to be there followed by certain actions. One does not have to jump from one to another, but could intend to make a gradual shift to find their way into a more spiritual life and self purification. They are the beneficiaries before anyone else.

The driving force here is motivation, which cannot come about when one is unwilling to give up a certain lifestyle.

The shift is a lot harder for younger individuals who may be heedless of their future family life and the consequences of their children being raised in a secular lifestyle. Spirituality may seem meaningless. The youth see the fun in front of their faces and all else take back seats or of no importance.

What about the marriage age persons in their 20s and 30s? Can they afford to be heedless of a deeper meaning in life, the existence of their Creator and the guidance that He so mercifully showered upon His creatures to insure a happy fulfilling life?

Does anyone claim to have wisdom greater than the one who created them?

If one recognizes that the Creator exists, why then run away from the Hand that feeds him; from the Giver who sustains him; from the Ever-Knower who guides him? Why?

One should really stop and reflect! Is it arrogance, ignorance or just plain laziness? What stops you from humbling yourself and surrendering to a power much higher than yourself or anyone else who is a mere creature? Do you think you know what is best for you? Can you live without guidance?

The great kings and Pharaohs of the past, some of whom claimed divinity, are only now ashes and bones under heaps of earth. Even they could not save themselves from death. Their wisdom did not cure them of some deadly diseases, their more powerful enemies or death itself. Can you be wiser and more powerful than them?

The Real Questions

Is it really your friends who you do not wish to abandon or is there a fear that if you turned your face toward God, you would find no other way but to leave all that is displeasing to Him?

Would you look for excuses and blames on the religion to avoid taking this necessary step? Do you find yourself very argumentative when it comes to the Quran and God’s commandments?

God willing, you are not one of those whom God describes below:

{We have explained in detail in this Quran, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, argumentative.} (Al-Kahf 18:55)

How would you feel if someone you really trusted told you with certainty that your real happiness lies in understanding the Book of God and putting to practice His commandments?

Would you still turn away for friends who would have no hesitation to leave you when a better opportunity arises for them or even forget you after a while? What about the pleasures of this world? Do you think what gives you pleasure at this age, may change a few years from now? Can you have a lasting pleasure in anything or anyone that are of this temporary transient world?

If you are just in reflective process and need to take your own time, don’t despair! When you are ready, God is ready to respond to you in ways befitting Him. Just don’t expect an instant answer or a light coming down hitting you or an angel descending upon you. Just know that He is truly near you and as you come closer to Him, you will get to see His grandeur, mercy and blessings. He has said it all in the verse below:

And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad concerning Me, then answer them:), I am indeed near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 186)